According to my Grand, “The secret to a great gumbo is that it takes as long as it takes—It’s time that makes it good.”
And just in time, here is a chicken gumbo recipe you can prepare for Mardi Gras!
The real star of this dish is the Sauternes wine used to braise the chicken in this classic gumbo dish. I used a 2011 Le Tertre du Bosquest Sauternes for this recipe. This barrel-aged Sauternes features a beautiful, brilliant, golden-yellow color and an attractively fresh bouquet with delightful hints of vanilla, peach, citrus fruit, and honey. Smooth and powerful on the palate, this delicious Sauternes has mandarin orange and quince flavors, and a slightly botrytised aftertaste. When using a good quality Sauternes, what you will get is a get a rich, balanced liquid for the gumbo, and plenty of tender poached chicken meat.
If you cannot find a good quality Sauternes in your neck of woods, your favorite white zinfandel or a riesling are excellent substitutes.
One 3 pound chicken, cut up into 8 pieces.
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
3 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 Tablespoons Lea & Perrin Worcestershire sauce
1 1⁄2 pounds andouille sausage (or smoked sausage or kielbasa)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
4 cups water
4 cups Sauternes wine (or a white zinfandel or a riesling)
1 1⁄2 teaspoon filé powder
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving
Season chicken lightly with salt and black pepper, cover and set aside in the refrigerator. For best results, let the chicken stand over night to get seasoned. Slice the sausage into 1/4 to 1/2-inch rounds; cover and set aside.
To make the roux, heat oil in a Dutch oven that is very clean over high heat until the the oil should begins to shimmer – and gradually begin to stir in flour, using a long-handled wooden spoon. The roux will take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook and must be stirred constantly so that it does not burn. If you see black specks in the roux, it has burned and you must start over again.
As you make the roux, it will change in color from cream to blonde, from tan to brown and then to dark chocolate red-brown. Remove from heat. Stir in the garlic, onions, green peppers, celery and Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly until roux stops getting darker. Bring to stove once more, and cook over low heat about five to seven minutes, stirring constantly until the onions are transparent.
In a another large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil remove from the heat and add to the roux in the Dutch oven, stirring to dissolve the roux thoroughly. Add the Sauterne wine. Add the cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Carefully add chicken and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook about 35 to 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken, and set aside to cool.
De-bone the chicken, and cut into bite-size pieces. Add sausage, to the Dutch oven, and simmer for another 35 to 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt, as needed.
Stir in the chicken, and remove the gumbo from the heat. Skim the surface to remove the fat that the sausage renders during cooking.
For best results, cover and store the gumbo in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, remove the gumbo from the refrigerator and stir in the filé powder. Bring the gumbo to a boil and then reduce and simmer the stew for 25 to 30 minutes.
Garnish with parsley and serve over rice with French bread.
Laissez le bon temps rouler , ché!
Considered to be one of the finest white wines in the world, Sauternes is a French sweet wine from the Sauternes is region of the Graves section in Bordeaux.
As in most of France, viticulture is believed to have been introduced into Aquitania by the Romans. The earliest evidence of sweet wine production, however, dates only to the 17th century. While the English were Bordeaux’s main consumer since the Middle Ages, their primary tastes were for red claret. It was the Dutch traders of the 17th century who first developed an interest in white wine. For years they were active in the trade of German wines but production in Germany began to wane in the 17th century as the popularity of beer increased. The Dutch saw an opportunity for a new production source in Bordeaux and began investing in the planting of white grape varieties.
Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. Due to its climate, Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence. Even so, production is a hit-or-miss proposition, with widely varying harvests from vintage to vintage.
Wines from Sauternes, especially the Premier Cru Supérieur estate Château d’Yquem, can be very expensive, due largely to the very high cost of production. Barsac lies within Sauternes, and is entitled to use either name. Somewhat similar but less expensive and typically less-distinguished wines are produced in the neighboring regions of Monbazillac, Cérons, Loupiac and Cadillac.
In the United States, there is a semi-generic label for sweet white dessert wines known as sauterne without the “s” at the end and uncapitalized.
On the other hand, cooking wines like sauternes date to the days when wine wasn’t something the average home cook kept on hand in the pantry. Wines that we find on the supermarket shelves labeled “cooking wine” usually contained preservatives, particularly salt, to make them shelf-stable after opening.
Basically, the standard advice for cooking with wine is “never to cook with something you wouldn’t drink”. Think about it, since most of us would not want to drink salty wine, the old cooking wines are slowly disappearing.
But for people who do not commonly drink wine with meals, that leaves the problem of what to use in recipes that call for a small amount of wine. One handy solution is the miniature four-pack. Since a bottle is only 187ml, or about 3/4 cup, you will not waste much, and the packs usually cost $7 or less.
Since Sauternes is a sweeter wine, something like a white zinfandel or a riesling should be a good replacement, if you cannot find it at your local wine and liquor stores.